Recipe Column: Cooking creatively and from scratch is a way of life for this cook
Growing up in a meat -and-potatoes family, with dinner on the table at 5 p.m. sharp, Rhinelander’s Debbie Dietz learned early the value of a home cooked meal. Married with children at a young age, Deb was blessed with great role models who enjoyed cooking, and taught her how to love it as well.
“My mother-in-law was a great cook,” she recalls. “Along with help from my mom and my grandmothers I learned how to put a good meal on the table.” Debbie is proud to admit she makes everything from scratch. “You can taste it in the meals, for one thing,” she said. “It’s just fun to create from scratch, for another. Plus when you make it, you know the ingredients.”
She has pared down her library of cookbooks, but still likes to read through them. Her go-to recipes can be found in a big photo album. “These are the recipes I live by,” Debbie said. “They are from family and friends, and many are ripped out of magazines and newspapers.” She refers to the meal ideas in the photo album often when she and her husband Rich get together with a small group of friends and family every couple of months. “It’s fun to have these dinners where we each bring a specific course,” she said. “And I have the opportunity to do fun things like serve a casserole in a pumpkin.” Presentation, according to Deb is more than half of the dining experience.
As much as she likes to collect recipes, Debbie will also share, often with her co-workers at Acacia Lane Dental, where she’s worked as the office coordinator for 22 years. Everyone has their own specialties there, like so many work groups around town; it becomes a tradition for cooks to bring in their best.
Her favorite things to cook? Debbie loves to make dishes that include fresh fish, as well as soups and chowders, especially this time of year, indicative of many of her recipes. “When I was young my dad, Fred Robinson, and uncle, Tom Ives would head out on area lakes in the fall, returning with a canoe full of wild rice,” Debbie remembers. “We would help dry and process it, and ate many meals that included wild rice.” The aroma of that hard-earned rice cooking on the stove brings her right back to those childhood memories, where her love of cooking began.
Following are a few of Debbie’s recipes.
Pumpkin Hot Dish
1 6-8 lb pumpkin, cleaned
1 ½ to 2 lbs hamburger
½ C onions
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 T brown sugar
3 T soy sauce
8 oz fresh baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 ½ C cooked rice (white or wild, or mixture)
8 oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained
Brown the hamburger and onion. Combine soup, sugar, soy sauce, mushrooms. Simmer 10 minutes. Add the rice and water chestnuts. Pour into a pumpkin and replace the lid. Place on a cookie sheet and back at 350 degrees for 1-2 hours.
Midwest BBQ Pasta Salad
16-oz garden rotini
1 C ranch salad dressing
¾ C barbeque sauce
2 C cooked chicken, chopped
½ lb bacon, cooked and chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 small red onion, julienned
1 small cucumber, seeded, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese to taste
Cook rotini according to package directions. When done drain and rinse in cold water, and drain again, thoroughly. Place all ingredients in large mixing bowl and toss well. Season to taste.
Stuffed Halibut (or Haddock) with Crab
Recipe courtesy of Pat Rudis
Saute ¼ C diced onion in ¼ C butter until tender.
8 oz can mushrooms, juice reserved
7 to 8 oz chopped crab (I use canned)
½ C cracker crumbs, such as Ritz
2 t chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Stir together well.
In a deep casserole or cake pan (sprayed ) place a layer of halibut on the bottom and spread stuffing on top. Add another layer of fish.
Melt 3 T butter and blend in 3 T flour. Add enough milk or half and half to mushroom juice to measure 1 ½ cups. Add 1/3 cup white or sherry cooking wine. Pour into flour mixture and cook/whisk until thick. Pour over fish, back at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with ½ c swiss and ½ c mozzarella cheeses. Sprinkle ½ t paprika on the top. Return to the oven until melted and bubbly. Rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Wild Rice Cake
Combine 2 C flour, ¼ t salt, ½ t baking powder. Set aside.
Cream together: ½ c better, 1 c dark brown sugar, 4 eggs.
Add: 3/4 c buttermilk, 1 t maple flavoring, ½ t nutmeg. Add to dry ingredients and beat with mixer until well blended. Fold in 2 c cooked wild rice and 1 c walnut pieces.
Pour into greased and floured 8” tube or bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees 45-60 minutes.
Cool, then top with whipped cream.
Optional: Add 4 T bourbon and 1 t vanilla to the whipping cream before beating.
Wild Rice Casserole
2 lbs bulk pork sausage (regular or spicy)
1/2 c chopped onion (or more)
1/2 c chopped green pepper (or more
three stalks of celery, chopped (or more)
8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
2 c cooked wild rice
1 can cream of mushroom soup (or more)
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste.
Cook the first four ingredients together. Add the remaining. Bake in a casserole dish or cleaned pie pumpkin at 325 degrees for one hour. May also be cooked in a crockpot.
Cream of Wild Rice Soup with Chicken
2 C cooked wild rice, about 1/2 cup uncooked
1 large onion
1/2 green pepper, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
8 oz fresh mushrooms
1 stick of butter
1 c flour
8 c hot chicken broth
salt and pepper
1 c half and half
1-2 T dry white wine (optional)
2 c cut up cooked chicken (2 chicken breasts or 1 rotisserie chicken).
Prepare wild rice according to package directions. Saute the onion, green pepper, celery and mushrooms in butter, about 3 minutes or just until the veggies soften. Sprinkle in flour, stirring nd cooking until flour is mixed in, but do not let it begin to brown. Slowly add the chicken broth or stock, stirring until all the flour-butter-veg mixture is blended well. Add the rice and season to taste with salt and papper. Add the chicken. Heat thoroughly, stir in the cream. Add white wine, if desired. Heat gently, do not boil. Makes about 12 servings.
Hunters Wild Game Stew w/Baked Pumpkin
1 lb venison or beef, cubed
1/2 lb pork loin, cubed
1/2 lb spicy sausage, sliced 3/4 inches thick
Brown meats in butter, drain. Saute 1 large onion, minced garlic and celery in butter five minutes. Add 1 cup red wine and 1 cup beef or chicken stock. Bring to boil and add meats. Simmer, covered, 20 minutes.
1 c cubed potatoes
1 c cubed rutabaga
1 c baby carrots
1 c peas
16 oz stewed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/2 t basil
1/4 t oregano
2 T br. sugar
2 t salt
Simmer 30 minutes then scoop all into cleaned pumpkin and top off with 1/2 cup red wine. Bake at 300 degrees 1 1/2 to 2 hours.